Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 6th 2013 Contents B2.1
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
You ve probably been involved in a team-
building exercise at some point. Perhaps it
was a weekend retreat, or an afternoon at
the climbing gym learning to rely on one
another, or a day on the golf course getting
to know everyone.
But, whether or not you and your col-
leagues enjoyed the experience, what hap-
pened when your team members returned
to the office? Did they go back to their usual
behavior -- perhaps arguing over small
assignments, or refusing to cooperate with
each other? The day of fun may have been
a nice break from business, but did your
colleagues actually use any of the lessons
that they learned once they were back in
Too often, managers plan an activity with
no real thought or goal in mind. This tends
to be a waste of time -- and managers risk
losing the team s respect when they plan
an exercise that doesn t actually help those
Team-building exercises can be a powerful
way to unite a group, develop strengths,
and address weaknesses -- but only if the
exercises are planned and carried out strate-
gically. In other words, there has to be a
real purpose behind your decision to do the
exercise -- for example, improving the team s
problem-solving or creativity skills -- rather
than because you felt like giving your people
a nice day out of the office.
Team building that
actually builds teams
The most important step when planning
a team-building exercise comes at the very
beginning: you must start by figuring out
what challenges your team faces. Only then can you
choose exercises that will be effective in helping them
work through these issues.
Spend time thinking about your team s current
strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself these questions
to identify the root of any problems:
• Are there conflicts between certain people that
are creating divisions within the team?
• Do team members need to get to know one
• Do some members focus on their own success,
and harm the group as a result?
• Does poor communication slow the group s
• Do people need to learn how to work together,
instead of individually?
• Are some members resistant to change, and
does this affect the group s ability to move forward?
• Do members of the group need a boost to their
If you d like to test how well you and your team
work together, try our Team Effectiveness Assessment.
Once you ve identified the causes of your team s
issues, you can plan exercises that will address these
problems. This will help your team to derive real
benefit from the event -- and feel that it was worth
Examples of Team-Building Exercises
There are literally hundreds of team-building exer-
cises that address a wide range of issues. We ve sep-
arated just a few basic, straightforward examples into
sections that focus on the most common challenges
Here are some basic exercises you could try, if
you re faced with issues of communication, stereo-
typing, or trust in your team.
Back-to-Back Drawing -- Divide your group into
pairs, and have each pair sit on the floor back to
back. Give one person in each pair a picture of a
shape, and give the other person a pencil and pad
• Ask the people holding the pictures to give verbal
instructions to their partners on how to draw the
shape -- without actually telling the partners what
the shape is. After they ve finished, ask each pair to
compare their original shape with the actual drawing,
and consider the following questions:
• How well did the first person describe the shape?
• How well did the second person interpret the
• Were there problems with both the sending and
receiving parts of the communication process?
Survival Scenario: This exercise forces your group
to communicate and agree to ensure their survival.
Tell your group that their airplane has just crashed
in the ocean. There s a desert island nearby, and
there s room on the lifeboat for every person -- plus
12 items they ll need to survive on the island. Instruct
the team to choose which items they want to take.
How do they decide? How do they rank or rate each
Eliminating Stereotypes and "Labeling"
Stereotype Party -- This is a fun exercise for a
medium-sized or large group. Write on nametags
many different personality types (see the list below),
and pin or tape one tag to each person s back. Don t
show people which tag is on their back -- they ll be
able to see everyone else s tag, but not their own.
Now, ask each person to figure out which personality
type is on his or her back by asking stereotype-based
questions of other people -- "Am I a man?" "Am I
an athlete?" "Am I an entertainer?" and so on.
Allow group members to answer only yes or no,
and encourage participants to ask questions to as
many different people as possible.
Continued on Page B24
Planning activities that actually work
Links Archive August 5th 2013 August 7th 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page